Saturday, January 17, 2015

Wondering if Nonchalance has become a Virtue


Having lived in a foreign developed country for over a quarter of a century, one had tailored for oneself a suit of expectations meant to make life more smooth, less stressful, and contentment-defined.  A place to hitch one’s temporal future to. A defined environment where one would get clean and climate-controlled environment, both in private and in public.  Where people behavior in public places and roadways could easily be predicted as to make reaction and interaction reflexive and expected.  Or in fine, where things look or work well enough as to be satisfactory and demandable. 


It was thus that in that milieu while one could definitely become nonchalant about the things beyond one’s own personal life, that would be considered  generally unacceptable.  Because in that milieu such attitude is frowned upon.  One cannot be unconcerned and passive.  The minute any thing goes awry the citizenry is expected or conditioned to howl in protest and demand redress at the soonest possible time.  Things being or done right was expected and demandable, with deviance from that standard not to be tolerated or be nonchalant about.  Overall, this made for a nice living for most concerned.  At certain places, things like the climate and the geography were factored in with desired sets of expectations.


Now fast forward to life back to the old homeland, in other words, life in a third-world country, where even the typical climate may be said to conspire to bring about its benighted state.  And immediately adjustments have to be made in expectations if one desires to retain one’s composure or sanity.  Occasioned by wholesale penury and squalor not only in the countryside but in all the nooks and corners of city life.   Where people behavior in public places and roadways have so deviated from what could be considered acceptable behavior, as to tread into the purview of illegality.


Being thrust into such a now challenging environment one’s hard-earned idealism had easily waned, or more appropriately, had been rudely blunted by continued exposure or immersion to the harsh realities.  One then starts thinking about nonchalance in a different light, as apt defense mechanism befitting the challenges of the times.  This time as a virtue?


Others may rather prefer the use of the word cynicism which we know is more judgmental.  But I say nonchalance is more apt, more middle of the road, or better, as safe fence-straddling.


Illustrations may shed light on this exposition.


We now live in a gated private subdivision with a perimeter fence, which is quite makeshift in certain areas.  And every day, we labor thru a commute of about 2 kilometers from the residence to our place in the poblacion.  Because of chaotic traffic conditions, our daily route has become circuitous and long-winded resulting in a doubling in distance.  This is done to avoid traffic chokepoints as much as is possible.   From this, one may be led to believe that we are living hunky-dory lives, albeit spotted with a few petty inconveniences.  From that score, one could not agree more.


However, a more involved exposition would show dark underbellies that reasonably concerned people should not be able to ignore or be passive about.  At first, at least.


Thus to escape the madding crowd entry thru our gate brings us to more calming place where one could put one’s hair down and be at peace.   This however is only illusory since in my case looking beyond my back fence one becomes witness to penury and squalor elicited by squatter families living in decrepit shanties, slapped together with any material that can provide shelter and privacy.  With no indoor plumbing, no electricity, too many children per family.  Not even any defined access and egress to their land-locked place.  Clambering over the fences being one scarce option.


And that daily sortie into the rest of the city provides more evidence of the things wrong in the place.  In some places streets have been constricted by makeshift dwellings of squatters living practically on the streets.  Where street drainage systems are either non-existent or if present appear to work only during dry season, since runoff water coming from rain or the dwellings are ever present on the curbs and streets.  Sidewalks too in some places have become non-existent preempted by people living in very congested quarters.


Such a dire outlook, but I feel they all need to be said.  Since one now feels a pervasive and ever-growing sense of nonchalance on the part of the ever-lessening numbers of those others blessed and free from the clutches of penury and squalor.


Pretty soon these and worse will become the new normal in this society.  If they are not already.